In 2 Timothy 4, after Paul instructed Timothy to “preach the word, and to reprove, rebuke and exhort”, he explains to Timothy the reason for that instruction. It is because there would be coming a time when “they will not endure sound doctrine.” “They” refers to professing Christians, and Paul is saying that soon they will succumb to their own desires and wishful thinking, and will “after their own lusts shall they draw to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” That time has long come and gone, and is continuing. The teachers themselves are also now looking after their own desires and looking to soothe their restlessness with all sorts of bad teaching, therefore dragging some of their undiscerning flock down the road of apostasy.
Recently, Rob Bell revealed his approval of homosexuality when he answered a question at a seminar, as seen in this video at Apprising Ministries. Brian McLaren gave his thumbs up to Rob Bell’s pronouncement as well. And now, Brian McLaren has officiated at a wedding ceremony for his homosexual son and his partner. (see Apprising Ministries) Is it possible that a high number of pastors in today’s evangelical world have no problem with these two men and the way they are contributing to the eternal damnation of many souls?
Both of these false teachers have been heavyweight leaders in the emergent church movement for a long time now. They are just simply adding on to their false credentials as post-modern “evangelical” leaders. They are now bringing it up another level, and I wonder now: how will the leaders in the church respond now? With silence again? Where are the Al Mohlers within the Church of the Nazarene? After all, those two men have been a major influence, both in the colleges, the seminaries, and in the churches.
What Brian McLaren Thinks
When asked about homosexuality a few years ago, Brian McLaren (who is no longer a pastor) said this:
“You know what, the thing that breaks my heart is that there’s no way I can answer it without hurting someone on either side.”
Brian McLaren also said the following:
“Frankly, many of us don’t know what we should think about homosexuality. We’ve heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say “it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.” That alienates us from both the liberals and conservatives who seem to know exactly what we should think. Even if we are convinced that all homosexual behavior is always sinful, we still want to treat gay and lesbian people with more dignity, gentleness, and respect than our colleagues do. If we think that there may actually be a legitimate context for some homosexual relationships, we know that the biblical arguments are nuanced and multilayered, and the pastoral ramifications are staggeringly complex. We aren’t sure if or where lines are to be drawn, nor do we know how to enforce with fairness whatever lines are drawn.”
And he said this in 2006 regarding homosexuality:
“Perhaps we need a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements. In the meantime, we’ll practice prayerful Christian dialogue, listening respectfully, disagreeing agreeably. When decisions need to be made, they’ll be admittedly provisional. We’ll keep our ears attuned to scholars in biblical studies, theology, ethics, psychology, genetics, sociology, and related fields. Then in five years, if we have clarity, we’ll speak; if not, we’ll set another five years for ongoing reflection. After all, many important issues in church history took centuries to figure out. Maybe this moratorium would help us resist the “winds of doctrine” blowing furiously from the left and right, so we can patiently wait for the wind of the Spirit to set our course.” (http://www.outofur.com/archives/2006/01/brian_mclaren_o.html)
Both men have certainly had a big influence on many within the church. In 2011, Rob Bell spoke at a pastor’s seminar at Point Loma Nazarene University, where you will find emergent ideology being promoted, mysticism, and a softening of the biblical view on homosexuality. His books and videos are used in churches for weekly Sunday School studies instead of Bible study.
Brian McLaren conducted a three day seminar at NorthWest Nazarene University several years ago that was outrageous, as described here by Eric Barger, who attended the seminar. His books are used widely as resources at many Nazarene universities, and can be found in the college bookstores. His books are also popular with many Nazarene pastors, who have gone on to pass them down to undiscerning members.
NazNet Pastors Weigh In On McLaren’s Actions
We have often called NazNet a breeding ground for emergent heresy, and with good reason, and unlike those who accuse us of being unloving, we have documented what they said, compared with Scripture, and have clearly pointed out their error. They continued that trend in a new thread on NazNet, although there were others who strongly disagreed with many of these pastors.
What some of these pastors have said reflects the kind of compromise, lack of Scriptural understanding, and lack of strong conviction that has allowed a lot of the damage that has come into the Church. Would these pastors say the same words to their congregations? Would they say these words at a district assembly in front of other churches? Since they said these words publicly, let’s put out what they have stated in their own words so that others may see and decide whether their words are based on sound doctrine:
“I am not able to be as black and white on this issue as some of my friends – on either side. And I hope we will have grace to understand that this is, for some, a more complex issue than others see it…. I don’t have a problem at all with Brian McLaren doing this, any more and perhaps even less than I have a problem with a member of the clergy praying a blessing over various activities of our secular culture. He is not a member of my theological tribe, and thus has absolutely no accountability to me, or to us.”
“Okay, now I will say this – and I know that many will disagree. I am still not sure how I personally believe about this issue.” (Mike Schutz, Nazarene pastor)
“McLaren still has a bit of capital with me, and I offer hopefully a diminishing amount of public criticism for those who clearly strive to sense the Lord’s direction. Selfishly perhaps, I’m focusing increasingly on what the Lord wants me to do, and less on telling others what they should do.” (Dennis Scott, Nazarene pastor)
“Brian McLaren drinks beer, too. I’m not sure what the big deal is. I don’t know why anyone would need to defend the man for anything. Some things he’s said have helped people think about God in new and refreshing ways (some have helped us think of God in old, powerful ways). Disagreeing with one thing (this is hardly the first thing he’s said that gives one pause to think) does not negate the positives.
There’s a ton of our brother and sisters who have spent lots of time, effort, and prayer seeking how to deal with this issue and have decided differently than us. We have to get along with each other.
I don’t consider one’s views on homosexual marriage as a litmus test for faith (I’m more inclined to do so on things like purity, chastity, faithfulness, and relationship).” (Ryan Scott, ordained Nazarene elder)
I see McLaren the way I see a MLB slugger. I’m a fan because he hits a lot of homeruns. I am a fan in spite of the fact that he also strikes out.
While my own evaluation is that this was a swing and a miss, I’m still a fan. (Wilson Deaton, Nazarene pastor)
“It sounds like Brian McLaren was in a tough spot, given that it’s his son we’re talking about here. … McLaren didn’t officiate at the actual wedding but “led a commitment ceremony” for family and friends later in the day…. which sounds like the pattern I’ve heard advocated here on NazNet in the past (couple gets married by the state, then blessed by the church).
Of course, as a Nazarene minister, such an action is out of bounds for me, but if I were in Brian’s shoes… who knows what choice I would’ve made? (Rich Schmidt, Nazarene pastor)
“I guess I’m confused as to what is being blessed here?
I would be happy to pray for or at just about any event. I’d love to pray for any couple, gay or otherwise, that they would experience all the love and grace and peace and joy that God has for all God’s children – that they would have the wisdom and grace to seek to love and serve others in all situations – that every person’s life would radiate the love and grace of the one who created them.
I’d be happy to pray at any wedding, even if I thought it was a bad idea – the thing ill-conceived marriages need most is prayer.” (Ryan Scott, Nazarene ordained elder)
These men would do Brian McLaren proud with their words. These are indicative of many other pastors who show a weak sense of conviction regarding homosexual sin. To be unwilling to clearly rebuke Mr. McLaren and avoid him as Scripture demands, is just as wrong as approving it. This same kind of wavering or refusal to make a clear statement on homosexuality, was reflected at Bruce Barnard’s FaceBook discussion. It does have a lot of eye opening insight in how these pastors are so devoid of discernment. Maybe they have good intentions, but they are way off the mark biblically. There is nothing ambiguous when it comes to homosexuality and what the Bible teaches.
So what now? Irresponsible, undiscerning, or apostate pastors is one of the reasons why the Church of the Nazarene is sliding deeper and deeper into apostasy. And yet, will the General Superintendents still remain silent and allow these two men to continue spreading poison in the church? Or, will they ever say, enough is enough, and call for a return to true holiness teaching and doctrine based on God’s word, not McLaren or Bell’s doctrine? Of course, even if they banned McLaren and Bell completely, that would not come close to helping cure the sickness spreading in our denomination. And how many more pastors are our seminaries sending out, who cannot stand firm and lovingly on the teaching of Holy Scripture, without trying to send ambiguous messages to people that could be sending them straight to hell.
Additional Resource: From Truth To Fables (John Henderson)
I am a Nazarene pastor that is up for ordination this coming year, and reading the above makes my stomach turn, and my bones burn (cf. Jer. 20.9 ). Having been a member of Naznet for a small amount of time I am well aware of the foul smelling things that are taught and advocated there. That is not to say that all on that website are in one accord with everything that is spoken on that site. There are some fence straddlers who sent me private emails telling me that they disagreed with what was being said. However, I did not see many of them take a public stance.
I also understand that by standing up in the midst of this storm I will be immediately labeled and ostracized by some leaders in the church. I don’t care! It isn’t that I have a personal agenda against such people, but as teachers their teachings need to be held accountable. Paul preached his heart out to the Ephesian elders telling them that for 3 years he poured out his heart preaching/teaching them the whole counsel of God (Acts 20.17-32). He warned them to watch for ravenous wolves that would not only come from without, but within. In agreement with what you have asked yourself, “Has this not happened? Is this not happening? Is there no one among our leadership who will stand up and proclaim that truth?”
The apostle John writes in his 2nd Epistle:
Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. (1Jn. 1.9-11 ESV)
How does anyone who is called to be a herald of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a preacher of the Word, not see that by remaining silent they too share in the evil deeds of false teachers?
A person can be committed of murder just by being at the scene of the crime and doing nothing. They might have not actually did the killing, but they were a participant nonetheless. Such people are called accomplices. To allow false teaching to go on unabated is being an accomplice to the crime. Do we really want the blood of people on our hands?
The Lie always kills, for Satan the father of lies was a murderer from the beginning (cf. Jn. 8.44).
Some may say (and they have) that they do not want to throw the baby out with the bath water. Such a notion is ridiculous when it comes to false teaching. The fruit hanging off their proverbial tree is rotten to its core. Some may claim that some of their teaching is good. I ask, “In what way…?” Unfortunately, it is “good” in appearance only. While, we cannot see into the hearts of men (and thank the Lord for that!) He can, and He tells us there is nothing good in them. Therefore, this is why I say that it is only that some fruit (i.e. teachings) appear good for consumption; for example the Caribbean Manchineel tree, which looks good but is poisonous (all parts).
Anyway, I appreciate the work that you have done, and I apologize for my exceedingly long post.
I wish you wouldn’t have edited my NazNet post when presenting it here. I believe my last two lines (not quoted above) substantially change the sound of my statement. Following my “if I were in Brian’s shoes” statement, I said this:
“He’s been living with this question in his own family for who-knows-how-long, and I’ve never had to wrestle with it so closely and personally. As it stands, I’m comfortable with our current Nazarene approach to the issue.”
Notice especially the last line. I’m comfortable with our Nazarene approach to this issue. It’s what I preach, teach, and counsel. I’m not challenging it.
All I did in my post was clarify the context of Brian McLaren’s action and express empathy for him, even though as a Nazarene I disagree with him. What’s wrong with that?
Well. Rich, I’ll be glad to let you revise and extend your remarks, if it helps clarify your position. Yet I wonder, if the COTN changes its position to acceptance of “homosexual Christians”, would you go with that also? Think about it.
It is wrong , however, if any pastor does less than a 100%, undeniable rebuke and rejection of a false teacher such as Brian McLaren. At best, it is deliberate ignoring of his error; at worst it is willful promotion of someone whose position on sin, hell and other doctrines of the church are truly doctrines of demons. I believe both positions are untenable and puts a Christian in serious jeopardy.
There is really nothing much to empathize with McLaren, because I know family and friends who are in the same situation as he has. What you hsould have done was throughly reject what he did, and also fully condemn what some of your friends have shamefully said in public. Some of them truly disqualify themselves from being ministers of Christ
Thank you for your boldness in speaking out. Many of us will keep you in prayer as you most likely will feel some heat for your standing up for truth.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? 19 Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”
1 Peter 4:12-19
Manny, this is an excellent article exposing the danger of false teachers regardless of how harmless some view their teaching as if their teaching does not matter. There is obviously a misguided understanding of Scripture that some have today about sin, in that untruth doesn’t matter even if it could lead to believing that God winks at man’s folly. The truth is God does not wink at sin as some men do today, nor should the church. In Acts [17:30-31], bears this out. “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because he hath appointed a day, on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
“These times of ignorance” is referring to the OT concerning the Gentile pagan nations who were allowed to follow their own religious beliefs; however, this did not excuse their behavior before a just God. There was a time before the gospel when heathen nations were allowed to walk in their own reason and passion and pursue their own religious system without Godly instructions. Paul sums up his teaching concerning neglecting God, as nations of old had done, and will judge the world in righteousness; therefore, no one can offer an excuse today. This is seen in Acts [14:16] “Who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways.” The truth revealed here in both passages of Scripture is whatever distasteful custom, be it ever so old or slight, does not excuse the one committing the offense nor will they escape judgment.
Paul addressed a similar circumstance when the Hebrew Christians were being persuaded to renounce their religious faith. He establishes by whose authority we are to surrender to and failure to do so leads to apostasy and finally punishment. Heb [1:1-2, 2: 1-3] “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,”
I am somewhat shocked by some of the comments made by some of those on NazNet and should serve as a warning of drifting away from the truth as Paul points out. I can only ask where are their Church Board Members who has a responsibility for the spiritual welfare of their Church.
The Church of the Nazarene is slowly but surely become the United Methodist Church. That is very sad to me. I pray that God has mercy on the Nazarene Church and that He sends a mighty revival that will call the Nazarene’s back to the Word of God and to holiness.
I am totally amazed at the compromise taking place in our Church.I never thought I would see the outright disregard of scripture and the wimpish reactions of our leaders. From my own ministry a Pastor has crossed ethical norms and intruded into a situation we were dealing with. It has been over a year and his welcome of an actively gay couple in the guise of “agape” has brought NO conviction to these lost souls. I approached my DS and we danced through the shuck and jive of it with no action. I love my DS and pray for him everyday. We agree about the sin but we are poles apart re “body life”. How could this be? The only thing I could think of…..”budgets”! To confront and discipline would most likely bring this “sister” Church to an end. That is very cynical I know. We pay our budgets so I have no axe to grind. Thanks for your site…The recent Pastoral Perspectives from our Generals is a confused document that avoids clarity re membership. I’ve been at this a longtime and have witnessed victory for homosexuals that have stood the test of time. Suffice to say they are distressed by the actions of Pastoral “wanna be’s” who know better than St Paul. I do not see any light at the end of the tunnel. I do see an oncoming train of compromise and denial. I love Jesus first, my family second and our Church. I will go down fighting for Christ. Recently I was informed by someone quite close to the situation….In 18 months not one thing was said from the pulpit re homosexuality. You will understand why I was not surprised to hear the “couple” roomed together at a Nazarene Retreat. Most members do not know. But the Pastor knew and it didn’t phase him in the least…Ichabod is on the way unless we repent.